Do You Teach Your Kids the Gospel or Law? | The Resurgence

From The Resurgence:

Everything that isn’t gospel is law. Let us say it again: everything that isn’t gospel is law. Don’t breed despair in your kids. Every way we try to make our kids good that isn’t rooted in the good news of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ is damnable, crushing, despair-breeding, Pharisee-producing law. We won’t get the results we want from the law. We’ll get either shallow self-righteousness or blazing rebellion or both (frequently from the same kid on the same day!). We’ll get moralistic kids who are cold and hypocritical and who look down on others, or you’ll get teens who are rebellious and self-indulgent and who can’t wait to get out of the house…  Read the rest of the Article @ The Resurgence


What Are Your Motives in Ministry?

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
The ministry at Thessalonica was not worthless or a failure (1 Thes 2:1). Paul’s ministry was a great success and could not be viewed as a failure in any way. It could also be true, that “in vain” meant that his words were not hollow or empty. Both should be considered, but I think Paul’s emphasis would be more on success, as later he echoes this emphasis. In 3:5, Paul uses “in vain” to refer to his fear that his ministry would not reach the desired effect. Paul gives 2 reasons why his ministry was successful. In this 
(1) Their ministry is characterized by boldness in the gospel in the midst of suffering (1 Thes 2:2). Paul’s suffering was well known to these believers, but he reminds them of the suffering he endured in Philippi before they arrived in Thessalonica. They would have not only known  of the mistreatment of Paul in Thessalonica and when he was chased down by the Jews from Thessalonica into Berea, but of the entire past history of what had transpired. He uses strong words, suffered and shamefully treated. They show the intensity of the hatred against Paul preaching the gospel. “We had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.” The truth is not popular. This boldness to share the gospel comes from God Himself (“in our God“) and is not something that Paul summoned with his own strength.

(2) Their ministry is characterized by truth entrusted by God (1 Thes 2:3-8). Paul’s preaching was done with the purest of motives. He spends this section proving his motives, F.F. Bruce gives the reasons why, “So many wandering charlatans…made their way about the Greek world, peddling their religious or philosophical ideas, and living at the expense of their devotees…that is was necessary for Paul and his friends to emphasize the purity of their motives and actions by contrast with these.” Paul gives 5 reasons why their ministry was characterized by truth entrusted by God and that they were not the charlatans that were so prevalent. First, they did not seek to please man, but God (1 Thes 2:4). Second, they did not manipulate the Thessalonians (1 Thes 2:5), “For we never came with words of flattery.” The general idea of the expression is exaggerated praise. Ultimately he points out that this is true, because they knew and God knows that their motives were pure. Third, they did not seek the praise of people (1 Thes. 2:6)
“Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others…” Here glory probably means  praise. Paul simply did not desire the praise of people. At no time did he have a desire of producing a personal following that especially exalted him as an apostle. This leads towards his next point, That he could have made financial demands on them based on his authority, (“though they could have made demands as apostles of Christ.”) but they did not want to be a burden on them so they portrayed the fourth reason, they were gentle (1 Thes 2:7). He states “like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.” This image is an appropriate one since Paul and his missionary team had spiritually birthed the believers in Thessalonica. Last, they have an ongoing personal love to those whom they ministered (1 Thes 2:8), it was more than just preaching the gospel, but they poured their lives into these people.
How does your personal ministry in your local church look? Is it portrayed here in the early verses of 1 Thessalonians 2? Are you pouring your life into the body of Christ to encourage and strengthen one another in their faith? Let us all be convicted by the example of Paul and to be found faithful.

Jesus in Every Book of the Bible

Jesus speaking to the Jews, John 5:37-40, “And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

How Do You Encourage Someone Who is Suffering?

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
I want to begin this study in the Thessalonian letters where it all began. The establishment of the church. The starting of the church was in AD 49-50, during Paul’s 2nd missionary journey. And it was not an easy church plant (Acts 17:1-15). Jealous Jews of the city produced a strong reaction to Paul’s successful ministry and a riot ensued as the city went into an uproar. When they did not find Paul and Silas (Silvanus) at Jason’s house, they dragged Jason and other Christians before the city authorities (Acts 17:6-8). The result was that Paul and Silas had to leave the city by night to go to Berea. From there the Jews from Thessalonica were hot on their heels as they heard of their preaching in Berea, and continued their persecution there as well. 
Why Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica seems clear, when we note that he was ripped away from the church by persecution. (Acts 17:10; 1 Thes. 2:17). Often the understanding of the purpose of this first letter as well as the second is solely a focus on end times and the return of the Lord, which is not entirely the case. While Paul definitely seeks to comfort the believers with teaching of the return of Christ, he is comforting them because of their need for comfort! How profound, right? Why did they need comfort? Because they were fairly new believers with not a lot of “training” or time for discipleship, that were facing intense physical persecution. Their suffering is noted throughout (1:6; 2:1-2; 2:14-17; 3:1-10). Paul wanted to comfort them and to guide these fairly new believers with his letters to be more like Christ and be comforted by His future coming (2:2, 9; 3:3-5).
So after the greeting (v.1), to begin the letter Paul sets the stage of encouraging these suffering believers in 3 ways: Reminding them of his love for them (2-3), Reminds them of what Christ has done (4), Gives evidence of their salvation (5-10). How do you begin to encourage someone that is in real suffering? Love them and Pray for them. 
(1) Paul genuinely loved and was thankful for them (1 Thes. 1:2-3). Constantly Mentioning in Prayer (2) Remembering their Service in Prayer before God (3). Faith…hope…love are somewhat intangible ways of evidencing one’s faith. So Paul links this with work…labor…steadfastness. This is not teaching that we work, labor and must be steadfast to earn our position or keep or position in Christ. They are simply an external outworking of faith…hope…and love and of course, all service is done in Christ. Does this characterize your service in your church? After you encourage a person through love and prayer
What else can you can do to encourage them in their suffering?
(2) Remind them of their Position in Christ (1 Thes. 1:4). They are loved by God (Romans 1:7; 2 Thes 2:13) and chosen by God. We could digress the discussion here and discuss the love of God found in individual and unconditional election, but we can save that for another post. Paul is simply pointing out that there life shows tremendous evidence of their election.
(3) Shows them the evidence that God has chosen them. (1 Thes. 1:5-10). 2 Peter 1:10 reminds us to always be examining our lives, Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” Paul is stating to the Thessalonians that he is sure of their calling and election because it is evident! God is at work! How has your life been transformed by the gospel? 
Why does Paul say this about the Thessalonians? Why should someone say this about you? It was not merely a hearing of the gospel. “because our gospel came to you not only in word.” (v.5) The gospel was shown in power (v.5), “this could be referring to a miraculous power or power in the proclamation of the Word,” (ESV Study bible). The Fruit of the Spirit was evident (1 Thes. 1:5; Gal. 5:22-23). They were sincere in their faith, it was not just for show “and with full conviction”(v.5). The men (apostles) proclaiming the truth, were men of integrity and is further evidence of the truthfulness of the gospel. “You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake,” (v.5). This so relevant today as it was in the first century, as there are so many charlatans seeking not to advance the gospel and salvation of souls, but to advance their own pride and pocketbooks. With Paul and his companions, this was not the case. They were humbly following godly leadership and God Himself.  (v.6) This is seen in joyfully enduring affliction that only comes from the Spirit (v.6).  They were spreading the same gospel that saved them, (v.7-8) from Macedonia to Achaia to everywhere.Their service speaks for itself “so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you,” (v.8-10). They turned from their wickedness to serve Christ (v.9) and were eagerly awaiting our future hope! (v.10).